How to Clean Vanilla Extract Stains

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Things You'll Need

  • Water

  • High-quality laundry detergent

  • Rubbing alcohol

  • Cotton ball

  • Bleach or color-safe bleach

Vanilla extract is a tannin-based stain because it is derived from a plant, which is the vanilla bean. Tannin-based stains typically become darker in color as they dry. Vanilla extract is one of the easier tannin-based stains to remove if caught early and before the stain begins to dry. However, vanilla extract that has had days or weeks to set into fabric may be more challenging to remove.

Fresh Fabric Stains

Step 1

Rinse the fabric with cold water.

Step 2

Add a high-quality laundry detergent directly to the stain and gently rub it into the fabric.

Step 3

Launder the textile according to washing instructions on the label. Use the hottest water recommended for the fabric.

Step 4

Inspect the material and wash it again if the stain is still visible. If not, dry it in the dryer or on a clothesline, following care instructions on the textile's tag.

Set-In Stains

Step 1

Wet the stain with warm water and then dab the stain with rubbing alcohol using a cotton ball. Do not douse the stain with the alcohol. Wetting the stain will open up the fibers to allow for the alcohol to penetrate the stain.

Step 2

Soak the fabric for 20 minutes with 1/4 cup of bleach or color-safe bleach mixed into one gallon of warm water.

Step 3

Wash the fabric according to label instructions. If the stain is still visible, soak the item in bleach water again, this time for 30 minutes.

Step 4

Dry the fabric in the dryer or over a clothesline once the stain is no longer visible.


The sooner you treat the vanilla-extract spot, the less likely it is to stain the fabric.


Do not use bar or hand soap on tannin-based stains as these soaps will set in the stain.

references & resources

Kelly Nuttall

Kelly Nuttall is a student at Utah Valley University in Orem, Utah. She is set to graduate in the spring of 2011 with her bachelor's degree in technical communications. She has been writing for various websites since March of 2009.